Oceana Gold pays rare dividend after year of records

Record gold production and declining costs spurred Oceana Gold to post a record $US172million ($NZ234.4million) after-tax profit for 2017.

A record $US724.4million revenue from its four mines has enabled Oceana to reduce net debt and boost its cash in hand, and it has paid a rare dividend, of A1c per share.

Crucial to Oceana is its all-in sustaining costs to produce an ounce of gold, which declined from $US708 per oz in 2016 to $US617 for 2017. That makes it one the cheapest gold producers in the world.

Oceana Gold's chief executive Mick Wilkes said that the record revenue and profit was underpinned by record production, of 574,606oz, and the sector-leading profit margins.

''In 2017, Oceana Gold delivered sector leading earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation margin of 56% while achieving a return on investment capital of 10%,'' Mr Wilkes said.

A separate Oceana report on 2016 operations in New Zealand said in January $330million went into the economies of East Otago and Waihi for that year.

Oceana yesterday maintained earlier guidance of producing 480,000 ounces to 530,000 ounces of gold during calendar 2018.

Mr Wilkes said fourth-quarter operations had delivered significant results.Its relatively new Haile mine in South Carolina, had contributed strongly.

The significant cash flow generation continued to strengthen Oceana's balance sheet.

In the fourth quarter, Oceana increased its cash in hand from $US61million to $US73million and also reduced its revolving credit facility from $US273million to $US200million, Mr Wilkes said.

Net debt reduced by $US88million in the fourth quarter. Debt repayments amounted to $US78million.

The cost of producing an ounce of gold at Didipio in the northern Philippines was just $US70, because of copper by-product sales offsetting the cost; $US509 at Haile, $US759 at Waihi in the North Island and $US1115 at Macraes, in East Otago.

Mr Wilkes said growth opportunities were identified ''mainly'' at Haile and Waihi.

No mention was made of Macraes, in East Otago, yesterday, but in February Mr Wilkes said he expected a ''solid year'' from Macraes, with a 20% boost in production as Oceana mined higher ore grades from the relatively new Coronation North development.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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